Senate report slams Bidens for conflicts of interest, flags possible criminal activity

GOP-led investigation cites 'glaring' evidence of Burisma bribe, suspicious foreign money transfers and sex trafficking.

Published: September 23, 2020 12:46am

Updated: September 23, 2020 10:09am

A year-long Senate investigation concluded Wednesday that Hunter Biden's efforts to cash in on foreign business deals during his father's vice presidency raised alarm among U.S. government officials, who perceived an ethical conflict of interest and flagged concerns about possible criminal activity ranging from bribery to sex trafficking.

The long-awaited joint report by the GOP-led Senate Homeland and Government Affairs and Senate Finance Committees delivered several blockbuster revelations less than two months before Election Day, suggesting Obama administration officials ignored clear warning signs about ethical conflicts and possible extortion risks involving Joe Biden's family.

Perhaps the most explosive revelation was that the U.S. Treasury Department flagged payments collected overseas by Hunter Biden and business partner Devon Archer for possible illicit activities.

The so-called Suspicious Activity Reports flagged millions of dollars in transactions from the Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings, a Russian oligarch named Yelena Baturina, and Chinese businessmen with ties to Beijing's communist government, the report said. Senate investigators have yet to determine if the FBI or others investigated the concerns.

"The Treasury records acquired by the Chairmen show potential criminal activity relating to transactions among and between Hunter Biden, his family, and his associates with Ukrainian, Russian, Kazakh and Chinese nationals," the 87-page report disclosed, confirming an earlier report in Just the News.

The report, citing U.S. government records, also raised concerns about possible ties to sex and human trafficking rings. "Hunter Biden paid nonresident women who were nationals of Russia or other Eastern European countries and who appear to be linked to an Eastern European prostitution or human trafficking ring," the report said.

An attorney for Hunter Biden has yet to respond to a emailed request for comment.

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson told Just the News Wednesday morning that the sheer volume of suspicious activity in Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings left the Vice President vulnerable to illicit influence or extortion. 

“The report raises serious questions that former Vice President Biden needs to answer. There are simply too many potential conflict of interest, counterintelligence and extortion threats to ignore,” he said. 

You can read the full report here:

The findings are certain to roil the final weeks of the presidential election and present a starkly different picture of the Biden family than the one House Democrats offered a year ago when they impeached President Trump for seeking a Ukrainian investigation into Hunter Biden's dealings with Burisma while his father served as vice president.

Back then, Democrats insisted any concerns about Joe Biden and Hunter Biden were Russian disinformation or debunked conspiracy theories.

But State Department records and testimony from Obama-era appointees confirmed Just the News' extensive reporting over the last year that State officials held serious concerns that Burisma was corrupt and had paid a $7 million bribe in 2014 to Ukrainian prosecutors while under investigation during Hunter Biden's tenure there.

In addition, State official George Kent, one of the Democrats' star impeachment witnesses, testified and wrote in contemporaneous memos that Hunter Biden's role on Burisma's board created the appearance of an "awkward" conflict of interest that undercut U.S. anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine being led by Vice President Joe Biden, the report said.

Kent was so concerned that he canceled a State Department partnership with Burisma, reported the alleged Burisma bribe to the Justice Department, and tried to raise concerns directly to Vice President Joe Biden but was rebuffed, the report said, citing testimony and U.S. government records.

In October 2015, another senior State Department official, energy adviser Amos Hochstein, raised concerns with Joe Biden, as well as with Hunter Biden, that Hunter Biden’s position on Burisma’s board enabled Russian disinformation efforts and risked undermining U.S. policy in Ukraine. But nothing further happened  

"The Obama administration knew that Hunter Biden's position on Burisma's board was problematic and did interfere in the efficient execution of policy with respect to Ukraine," the report concluded. "Moreover, this investigation has illustrated the extent to which officials within the Obama administration ignored the glaring warning signs when the vice president's son joined the board of a company owned by a corrupt Ukrainian oligarch."

In all, Hunter Biden and Archer received more than $4 million from Burisma during a time when the firm aggressively lobbied the State Department to make long-standing corruption allegations go away, at times invoking the vice president's son’s name for pressure.

But the U.S. government's worries about Hunter Biden's globetrotting business pursuits didn't stop in Ukraine.

"In addition to the over $4 million paid by Burisma for Hunter Biden's and Archer's board memberships, Hunter Biden, his family, and Archer received millions of dollars from foreign nationals with questionable backgrounds," the report said.

Senate investigators flagged transactions in at least three other foreign countries:

  • Archer received $142,300 from Kenges Rakishev of Kazakhstan, purportedly for a car, the same day Vice President Joe Biden appeared with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and addressed Ukrainian legislators in Kyiv regarding Russia's actions in Crimea.
  • Hunter Biden received a $3.5 million wire transfer from Elena Baturina, the wife of the former mayor of Moscow and Russia's only female oligarch.
  • Hunter Biden opened a bank account with Chinese national Gongwen Dong to fund a $100,000 global spending spree for the Biden family.
  • Hunter Biden had business associations with Ye Jianming, Gongwen, and other Chinese nationals linked to the communist government and the People's Liberation Army. "Those associations resulted in millions of dollars in cash flow," the report said.

The report did not expand much on its sensational claim of alleged links to sex trafficking or prostitutes, reserving most of the discussion to two footnotes.

"There is extensive public reporting concerning Hunter Biden's alleged involvement with prostitution services. Records on file with the Committees do not directly confirm or refute these individual reports," investigators wrote. "However, they do confirm that Hunter Biden sent thousands of dollars to individuals who have either: 1) been involved in transactions consistent with possible human trafficking; 2) an association with the adult entertainment industry; or 3) potential association with prostitution. Some recipients of those funds are Ukrainian and Russian citizens.

"The records note that it is a documented fact that Hunter Biden has sent funds to nonresident alien women in the United States who are citizens of Russia and Ukraine and who have subsequently wired funds they have received from Hunter Biden to individuals located in Russia and Ukraine. The records also note that some of these transactions are linked to what 'appears to be an Eastern European prostitution or human trafficking ring," the footnote added.

The report said the Senate probe will continue in part because investigators have been thwarted by a lack of cooperation and have not yet been able to determine whether the FBI, U.S. intelligence or other agencies fully investigated the concerns about the Bidens.

The report does not accuse either Joe or Hunter Biden of a specific crime; rather it flags warning signs about their conduct and questions whether officials turned a blind eye. Both Bidens have long denied wrongdoing and called the Senate investigation a partisan endeavor.

Democrats are certain to contest the findings, but they will face the awkward challenge that the key evidence supporting the Republicans' conclusions came from Obama-Biden era files and witnesses, including Kent, the bowtied diplomat who was a star witness for Democrats at impeachment.

Kent's testimony and emails cited in the report paint a compelling portrait of the difficulties Joe Biden created by continuing to preside over Ukraine anti-corruption policy as Obama's vice president while his son served on the board of a company under investigation for corruption and run by an oligarch named Mykola Zlochevsky.

"The presence of Hunter Biden on the Burisma board was very awkward for all U.S. officials," Kent wrote in a Sept. 6, 2016 email to senior State officials, including then-U.S. ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.

In his testimony to the committees, he expounded on the impact those concerns had on U.S. policy in Ukraine, especially in fighting corruption.

"People who talk the talk need to walk the walk, and for the U.S. government, collectively, when we talk about the need to have high standards of integrity, again, as I've said, the presence of [Hunter Biden] on the board created the perception of a potential conflict of interest," he testified.

Kent also discussed the extraordinary specter of having to report to the Justice Department that the very firm paying Hunter Biden in Ukraine was believed to have paid a bribe to Ukrainian prosecutors to make corruption allegations disappear.

"Burisma's owner was a poster child for corrupt behavior," Kent testified to the committees. "... I would have advised any American not to get on the board of Zlochevsky's company." 

Hunter Biden finally left Burisma in 2019 as his father began his quest to win the presidency in 2020.

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